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TRUE – Collapse Of 13 Story Building in China

by Brett M. Christensen

This story was first published on September 3rd, 2010


The event described in the message included below occurred in June 2009.  Versions of the message have circulated ever since. Because the message does not include a date, many recipients assume that the building collapse was a recent event.


Message claims that a series of attached images show a 13 story apartment building that toppled over in China due to major construction errors. 

Brief Analysis

The images are genuine and the claims in the message are true. The building being constructed at the Lotus Riverside residential complex on the outskirts of Shanghai, China, collapsed, killing one worker, in June 2009.


Subject: faulty foundation, lack of environmental assessment before construction


Anybody who bought a condo here sure has a problem.
Talk about a collapsed market!

Collapsed Building in China 1

(1) An underground garage was being dug on the south side, to a depth of 4.6 meters.

(2) The excavated dirt was being piled up on the north side, to a height of 10 meters.

(3) The building experienced uneven lateral pressure from south and north.

(4) This resulted in a lateral pressure of 3,000 tonnes, which was greater than what the pilings could tolerate.

Thus the building toppled over in the southerly direction.

Collapsed Building in China 2

*First, the apartment building was constructed.*

Collapsed Building in China 3

Then the plan called for an underground garage to be dug out.
The excavated soil was piled up on the other side of the building.

Collapsed Building in China 4

*Heavy rains resulted in water seeping into the ground.*

Collapsed Building in China 5

The building began to tilt
Then it began to shift and the “hollow” concrete pilings were snapped due to the uneven lateral pressures

Collapsed Building in China 6

And thus was born the eighth wonder of the world.

Collapsed Building in China 7

If the buildings were closer together it would have resulted in a domino effect.

Collapsed Building in China 8

Collapsed Building in China 9

Collapsed Building in China 10

Collapsed Building in China 11

Collapsed Building in China 12

Collapsed Building in China 13

Collapsed Building in China 14

Collapsed Building in China 15

Collapsed Building in China 16

Collapsed Building in China 17

They built 13 stories on grade, with no basement, and tied it all down to hollow pilings with no rebar.

Brought to you by the same folks that make your kids’ toys and want to build your car.
Now that, folks, is a snafu. Don’t you feel better now, that these are the folks manufacturing nearly EVERYTHING we buy and use today?

Detailed Analysis

This widely circulated message describes the collapse of a thirteen story residential building in China and cites fundamental construction errors as the cause of the collapse. The message is illustrated with a series of photographs and diagrams depicting the doomed building and why the catastrophic collapse occurred.

The images are genuine and the description is factual. The collapse took place in Shanghai, China on 27th June 2009. A 1st July 2009 news report published in Chinese news outlet China Daily notes:

The under-construction building in the Lotus Riverside residential complex in Minhang district that fell on its side, almost intact, killing a construction worker on Saturday morning, had mud packed as high as 10 m to one side as builders dug to make an underground car park on the other.

A member of the team investigating the collapse, which angered some 500 homeowners of the still unoccupied complex, said: “No builder with basic construction knowledge should have made that error.”

A later China Daily report about the incident provides further details, explaining:

Errors in construction procedure were the main cause of the 13-floor building toppling in Minhang District of Shanghai, local government officials said Friday at a press conference.

Workers piled excavated earth up to 10 meters high on the north side of the building at Lotus Riverside complex while digging a 4.6-meter underground garage at the south side of the building at the same time.

The pressure on both sides moved the foundations horizontally and they were unable to support the building, Huang Rong, director of the Shanghai Construction and Communication Commission, told a press conference.

In the aftermath of the collapse, Chinese officials maintained that the other buildings under construction in the same complex were “seemingly unaffected”. However, in spite of this reassurance, Huang Rong, director of Shanghai Urban Construction and Communications Commission, said that the safety of the other buildings could not be guaranteed until after a planned safety overhaul had been completed.

Chinese officials promised that those found responsible for the building collapse would be “severely penalized “. An April 2010 China Daily report indicates that this promise was certainly kept, noting:

SHANGHAI – The two top shareholders of a real estate firm responsible for developing the Lotus Riverside residential complex, where a nearly complete building fell to its side last year, were sentenced to life in prison on Wednesday.


The Shanghai No 1 Intermediate People’s Court convicted 52-year-old Que Jingde, the second largest shareholder of the Shanghai Meidu Real Estate, on one charge of graft, while finding Zhang Zhiqin, 51, the largest shareholder in the firm, guilty on counts of graft, embezzlement of corporate funds and causing a serious accident.

Zhang’s personal assets worth 5 million yuan and Que’s 2 million yuan were also ordered to be confiscated.

Other reports indicate that poor quality building work has been an ongoing concern in China for years. A six-story apartment block in Hubei province also collapsed in 2009 due to poor construction techniques. And, again in 2009, a construction pit at a building site in Nanjing collapsed, causing series structural damage to nearby buildings.

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,